2/19/2011: Diggin’ my potatoes

27 Feb

<Note” This is cut & pasted from MabelC’s email (title and photo captions are mine) Apologies to Big Bill Broonzy. :)>

“I was a little bit at a loss when I found out the theme would be
“Haute Versions of 70’s Food.” But I dug around the apartment and
found this:

Not so New! anymore

My mom’s old cookbook published in the 70’s! I remember using it when
I was little to cook my very first recipe – strawberry shortcake. And
when I started flipping through it to look for inspiration, I found my
mom had underlined certain recipes like “Chow Mein” (of which the
first listed ingredient is “1 lb chow mein meat”) and “Teriyaki Beef.”
Kind of neat.

There were several pictures that were so ridiculously awesome that I
thought of using them as inspiration for my dish:

How is this not a crime?

Basic Meat Loaf baked in a ring mold frosted with a sauce made from
mushroom soup. It looks like a meatloaf volcano! Or:

Warning: NSFW!

Chuckwagon Round-Up. Slightly gross looking but also an awesome
presentation. Then I came upon the Cheeseburger Casserole, which I
seriously considered. Instead of ground beef mixed in tomato sauce in
a casserole dish with frozen Pilsbury biscuits stuffed with cheddar
cheese chunks baked until the biscuits get cooked, I thought of doing
an oxtail stew with biscuits made from scratch filled with Delice de
Borgogne, one of my favorite soft and salty cheeses. The Delice seemed
a little unstable, though – a thought that was only confirmed when I
test microwaved the cheese and got an oily and funky smelling mess.
And I wasn’t sure I would be able to pull off the oxtail stew.

Ultimately, I fell back on one of my favorite cooksbooks, “Bistro
Cooking” by Patricia Wells. My idea was potato gratin, but the fancy
version would be her recipe for potato and celery root gratin that
incorporated a nice tomato and creme fraiche sauce. The potatoes and
celery were peeled, boiled, and sliced (David R’s new slicer made
slicing the celery root super easy!). I peeled the tomatoes (I had
never peeled tomatoes before I cooked from Patricia Wells’ book, and
while the difference is small, it does make the final dish a little
nicer). Then I assembled everything, threw on some grated Gruyere,
baked for 40 min, and voila! I paired it with a simple bitter green
salad with chicory for contrast. That’s it – a small contribution to a
super-fun evening!”

Potato & Celery root gratin

<Thanks, Mabel!  I saw the actual book… I know I initially expressed regret that you didn’t bring it to the dinner, but now that I look closer at the photos… I’m really glad you didn’t ;)>

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